Tory leadership hopefuls should 'look in mirror' over bid to scrutinise Holyrood, says SNP's Keith Brown

Conservative leadership hopefuls have been told by the SNP deputy leader to “look in the mirror” over calls for greater scrutiny of the Scottish Government, as neither candidate turned up at parliamentary committees.

Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both used their leadership campaign trail to announce plans to increase the scrutiny of Scottish ministers by Westminster meetings and the UK Government.

However Keith Brown, Justice Secretary and the SNP’s second in command, said both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak had previously snubbed scrutiny sessions in the Scottish Parliament.

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Earlier this year, Mr Sunak, who served as Chancellor before resigning in July, was asked to meet with Holyrood’s finance committee as a part of its pre-Budget scrutiny. However Mr Sunak did not reply to the invitation, according to Mr Brown, and no UK Chancellor has ever accepted the request.

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Ms Truss, who was then the UK Government’s chief secretary to the Treasury, refused to appear at the Scottish Parliament’s finance and constitution committee in 2018. She had been asked to answer questions on how Scotland’s block grant would change to take account of Holyrood’s new tax-raising powers.”

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Instead, the now-Foreign Secretary wrote to MSPs to say the operation of the fiscal framework was a “shared responsibility” for both governments.

Mr Brown said: “Westminster isn’t working for Scotland – in this case literally. The fact that Truss and Sunak have never appeared in front of a Holyrood committee demonstrates just how much contempt they both have for Scotland and the Scottish Parliament. When it comes to increased scrutiny, they should first take a look in the mirror.

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Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak both used their leadership campaign trail to announce plans to increase the scrutiny of Scottish ministers (file image). Picture: Jacob King - WPA Pool/Getty Images.

“The reality is that they’re now both running scared of their abysmal records in government and how they fail the people of Scotland time and time again. They both know their catastrophic failures would be exposed even further during a grilling from MSPs.

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“Both Truss and Sunak have shown throughout this sorry campaign that they do not respect Scotland, with Truss saying she would ignore the democratically elected First Minister and Rishi Sunak revealing his intention to completely undermine the devolution settlement.”

He went on to say both candidates offered nothing but “disrespect” to Scotland. Ahead of the hustings in Perth last Tuesday, the pair vying to be the next prime minister promised to hold the Scottish Government to account.

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Outspoken

Ms Truss said MSPs would be given parliamentary privilege, a special legal protection, to allow them to be more outspoken in their scrutiny of the devolved government.

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Meanwhile, Mr Sunak said Scotland’s most senior civil servant would face more scrutiny by attending Westminster’s Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee every year.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently claimed that the “Tories are coming for devolution” after a former Brexit minister appeared to suggest devolved powers could be returned to Westminster.

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Lord Frost, who was made a Conservative Peer in 2020, said in a newspaper column that the devolution settlement that set up the Scottish Parliament “is not written in stone”. He wrote: “It has evolved – all in one direction – since 1999. It can evolve back, too.”

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